Source: Sherry Hoyer, Iowa State University
SowBridge, the distance educational series for those who work with sows, boars and piglets, and with genetic and reproductive issues, begins its 11th program year in February 2019, and registration is now underway. This low-tech opportunity pairs electronically provided materials with live presentations via teleconference. Suggestions from past participants help with planning the next year’s topics and speakers, and maintain the program’s value, according to Ken Stalder, Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist.
“Each year we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and follow through as much as possible to provide current content that people are interested in,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”
New this year, the program cost has been set at $200 ($U.S.) for the first registration from an entity. And as in the past, each subsequent registration from the same entity pays half that amount.
“We recognize the current economic condition of the pork industry, and want to encourage participation by all producers,” Stalder said. “By lowering this year’s registration fee, we hope more people will be able to take part.”
SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets. Sessions are typically scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month but occasionally may be moved up a week to avoid interference with national industry events or holidays.
“With the live phone presentation and slideshow available on their computer or other device, participants can take part from anywhere without needing internet access,” Stalder said.
The distance learning approach allows people to take part without having to travel, take time from work or worry about weather conditions. During each session, participants can ask questions of the industry expert presenter and discuss with other participants from the comfort of their home, office or swine unit.
Before each session, participants receive a link to download the presentation and any additional information provided by the presenter. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session to listen to the presenter and while following the presentation file on their own computer or device. Sessions begin at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and last no more than an hour.
Each registration provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration, including audio recordings of the live session. Materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses. Regardless of location, those with questions on the program or registration should contact Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State for more information. Hoyer can be reached by phone at 515-294-4496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To provide a look at the content of SowBridge sessions, this example video was created using the presentation material and audio recording from a 2017 session where speaker Corinne Bromfield presented, “Identifying Scours.”
The yearlong program is offered by registration only with a Jan. 15, 2019, deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 6. A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the IPIC website at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/SowBridge/2019SBbrochureIPIC.pdf Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.
2019 session dates, speakers and their industry affiliations, and topics are as follows.
SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 universities – including Iowa State – from the nation’s major swine producing states.